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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY              297

That is the fundamental question with which we see Rousseau
wrestling in the Emile and in the contemporaneous Letter on
Education in the New Heldise. His own answer is incomplete
and has to be pieced together from various sources, but so far as
it goes it is both new and sound. The educator, he says in effect,
must begin by studying the child. He must take account first of
all of the generic characters of mankind—those characters which
are variously manifested in the dispositions or inclinations. Then
there are the differences of sex: " Once it is demonstrated that
men and women are not and ought not to be constituted alike in
character or temperament, it follows that they ought not to have
the same education."* Next, the differences of age : " Each age
and condition of life has a perfection and maturity of its own."f
And finally, the differences of individuality : " Each mind has a
form of its own in accordance with which it must be directed;
and for the success of the teacher's efforts it is important
that it should be directed in accordance with this form and no
other." t

He has least to say with regard to individuality, and yet the
problems it raises are always before him. " One nature needs
wings, another shackles,'* he points out in the New H£lotse.§
" One has to be flattered, another repressed. One man is made
to carry human knowledge to its furthest point, another may
find the ability to read a dangerous power." To the problems
raised by such differences he has two answers. The first is given
implicitly in the Emile, where the education of the boy Emile is
the special care of a tutor who devotes the best part of his life to
the task. This tutor has complete charge of the boy and makes
it his business to exercise perfect control of all the circumstances
likely to determine his mind and character. But though such an
exceptional arrangement does provide ample safeguards for
individuality, it is no true solution of the practical problem;
and Rousseau recognizes that himself. His second and better
answer is given in the New H6lo%se. There he depicts two boys
and a girl growing up in the well-regulated liberty of an ideal
household under the eyes of an enlightened father and mother,
who take care not to interfere with the lessons of experience.
The implication, which Rousseau makes plain enough even in the
Emile, by stating that " the proper nurse is the mother and the

* Effril*, v, 25.          f Md.t u, 304.          J Ibid** II, 69.          § v, 3.